Omnichannel marketing involves using numerous offline and online channels to reach your customers in thoughtful and unified ways. The idea is to be available and convey that you’re ready to help them and provide seamless messaging across formats. However, omnichannel marketing is not right for every business or circumstance. Here are some things to do before deciding whether to use it.
Evaluate Your Resource Availability
Many business leaders find omnichannel marketing effective and worthwhile, but they also realize doing it well requires adequate resources. If you don’t have a sufficient amount of time and money to put towards it, omnichannel marketing may not be the smartest solution to pursue right now.
Think of omnichannel marketing as a progressive journey. You may not want to invest huge amounts of money into it without getting some assurance of a healthy payoff. That’s understandable, but you should still ensure your initial budget and schedule allow for devoting enough to it so that your overall effort has a strong chance of success.
You’ll naturally shift resource allocations after becoming more familiar with omnichannel marketing and how to make it work best for your business. However, it’s not feasible to assume you can roll out a worthwhile omnichannel strategy in a matter of weeks on a shoestring budget. Before you decide to pursue omnichannel marketing, commit to investments that make it work in your favor.
Pick Your Channels Strategically
A common mistake made by brands exploring omnichannel marketing for the first time is trying to be on every channel at once. That approach ends up spreading team members too thin and could result in a lack of consistent quality when a person encounters a brand. A better method is to identify which customer journeys have the most current and future value. Marketers can then focus on harmonizing those experiences across platforms.
Consider what makes the most sense for your customers when choosing the platforms, rather than paying too much attention to what your competitors do or what seems most popular across broader society. Doing that could set you apart by showing that you stay in tune with your audience’s needs.
A coffee delivery company called Crema.co left social media after more than 88% of customers said they don’t use social media or they want to stop. A 22% sales increase followed that decision, which the brand announced on its Sunday Sippin’ blog. The company will still reach customers online through brewing classes, more articles, plus weekly surveys and giveaways.
Work Within Your Limits
Many small business owners automatically think that omnichannel marketing is only for larger companies, and they don’t even consider it given the sizes of their organizations. However, that kind of thinking could become prohibitively limiting. Although you must stay aware of what you can realistically achieve, remember that an effective omnichannel effort is not necessarily an elaborate one.
Maybe costs prevent you from running a regional bus stop ads campaign where people scan QR codes to enter a contest. Adjust your thinking to consider how you might appeal to them on a smaller scale. One of the most accessible options could be to add a contest entry form to your existing website after posting a sign about the contest in your store window. Then, promote the event on other channels you already have, such as a Twitter feed.
Ask yourself how the business could do more with its existing presence in the market. As you work out those specifics, remember how important it is to stick to the same brand image across all channels. If the sign in the store window has a completely different font, color scheme and logo than the social media content, customers may get confused and wonder if the content is from two separate brands.
Explore Cost-Effective, Timely Ways to Promote Your Business
Online omnichannel strategies often feature seasonal content. A paper goods company might publish blogs about wrapping holiday gifts in December and recommend how to decorate for a cookout in July. Your offline advertising efforts can do something similar.
Window clings work well for seasonal decorating because they’re a temporary but practical and attractive solution. Your garden center might have bright floral clings in the window during the warmest months of the year, then switch to autumn leaf and snowflake designs as the year progresses. When selecting the specifics for those decorations, take inspiration from how your website and social media profiles look.
The window cling example shows that you can move forward with branding efforts on a modest budget. The ability to reuse the products makes them appealing to cost-conscious business owners. Offerings like vinyl banners give that advantage, too. Buying reusable products helps your brand image match seasons or holidays while letting you rely on them through multiple years.
Ensure You Provide Superb Support Across All Channels
An excellent omnichannel marketing strategy can keep people up-to-date on the latest happenings and products associated with your company. It can also give consumers more options if they need help. For example, you might initially offer telephone support and branch out to help people via live chat, chatbots and Twitter.
Such a strategy works well if your target market consists of people from various backgrounds and age groups. A 30-something, tech-savvy person might prefer text-based support, but an older adult who hates computers would probably pick up the phone first and may refuse to get in touch if a company did not provide that option.
However, a possible side effect of increasing the number of channels through which your company provides support is that representatives may get swamped by the increased workload. Suppose you expect the same team that initially supported people through one channel to suddenly add three more to their workloads.
In that case, response times could increase along with dissatisfaction rates. As you expand your reach, consider investing in hiring, too.
Look for Ways to Increase Consumer Confidence
People often discuss omnichannel and multichannel marketing interchangeably. They have some similarities — such as that both strategies target people through physical and virtual means. However, what sets omnichannel marketing apart is how it delivers a frictionless experience no matter the platform a person uses to engage with a brand.
For example, Ticketmaster’s omnichannel strategy includes immediately giving people access to digital tickets after they make online purchases. Consumers can then download an app to show the e-tickets on their phones after reaching the venues. There’s also a handy ticket transfer option that lets people send digital tickets to friends after buying them.
The ticketing brand operates some physical ticket-selling kiosks, too. Also, if a scanner fails to read someone’s digital ticket, the consumer can immediately go to the box office to request a physical equivalent. Think about how your omnichannel marketing methods could help people feel assured when dealing with your brand. Ticketmaster representatives knew tech troubles would arise occasionally. When they do, people can still enjoy their shows with paper tickets.
Confirm How Much You Can Depend on Data
Omnichannel marketing is like many other business strategies in that it typically works best when you can rely on accurate internal data to guide your decisions. For example, if you’re thinking about building a presence on another social media channel, your company’s data can reveal whether the average customer you serve likely uses that network or might soon.
Similarly, data lets you bring personalization into your strategy by enticing people with the most relevant offers. Suppose you own a vegan-friendly makeup company with both a physical and e-commerce store. An in-person customer might buy mascara and eyeliner and opt to sign up for an email list at checkout. You could then send them a welcome message that thanks them for their recent purchase and has a 20% off coupon for lipstick valid at the website.
Understanding what customers will likely want and respond to can quickly become haphazard without the help of data to back up assumptions. Data lets you feel well-equipped to keep customers happy while simultaneously boosting your profits and brand recognition. If company representatives do not have a data-driven decision-making process or trust the validity of the information, it’s probably not the best time to move forward with omnichannel marketing.
Task Someone With Checking for Unified, Accurate Messaging
While working out your omnichannel marketing strategy, assess whether you can assign someone to check for a lack of consistency and correctness between channel messaging. Discounts, dates and other specifics must match across each customer touchpoint to avoid mistrust. If a customer sees a social media ad that promises you’ll have 200 models of the newest smartphone in stock next week but notices that a banner outside your store mentions 350, they’ll feel doubtful.
Listening to customer feedback is essential, too. Maybe you use the same online graphic every fall to promote a sale on Halloween costumes. A person might say something like, “I received a flyer about your costume event in the mail today. However, when I looked at your Facebook page, a graphic there said the sale ended on November 1.” There’s nothing wrong with reusing materials, but make sure they remain accurate when you do.
Come up with a detailed plan to scrutinize the messaging across all your channels, and prepare to update it as new needs or shortcomings become apparent. Avoid rushing to publish content for a new campaign before checking it thoroughly. Otherwise, you could ultimately waste more time correcting mistakes or misconceptions once the audience sees the problematic content.
Assess Whether You Could Create More Customer Convenience
E-commerce made shopping for some things easier, but not all of them. For example, a horse owner might feel comfortable placing an online order for feed that they’ve bought for their steed dozens of times before, but perhaps not a saddle. That piece of tack must fit both the rider and the horse comfortably, and people typically view a saddle as an item to buy in-person. They’d likely at least research it online, though.
If an omnichannel approach would help you improve customers’ shopping experiences, it makes sense to move forward with it. Many retailers offer services where people can buy things online and pick them up in a nearby store. Spreading the word about them often means appealing to the needs a person likely has. For example, a social media post could say, “Order your gourmet meals online now and pick them up on the way home from work. Dinner, sorted!”
However, it doesn’t work as well for everyone to pick up a mattress, bedroom furniture set or riding lawnmower that way. Some buyers could do it, but only if they had spacious vehicles and appropriate equipment, such as a trailer or rope. Promoting a home delivery option is more appropriate. Before telling customers about a new omnichannel strategy, make sure it aligns with most of their situations.
Use Omnichannel Marketing When It Supports Business Goals
Some business owners hear about omnichannel marketing so much that they assume the best decision is to practice it, even before researching the specifics. Instead of doing that, review the suggestions here and base your conclusion on whether omnichannel marketing aligns with what you want your business to achieve over the next several months and years.